Maury County mayor says he won’t enforce mask mandate amid rising COVID-19 cases

Local News

MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The impact of COVID-19 in Maury County mirrors that of most other counties.

“It pretty much shut us down for three months,” said Eric McCandless, owner of a Maury County wedding venue and production venue. “Whenever it first happened, we pretty much came to a stand still.”

McCandless says the pandemic forced him to let go of several of his employees before he and his girlfriend caught the virus themselves. Thankfully, both had mild symptoms.

“I pretty much stayed in one part of the house,” McCandless said. “She stayed in another part. And, we’d wave at each other in passing.”

According to the latest county data released by the Tennessee Department of Health, Maury County has seen 5,266 confirmed cases of COVID-19. That’s a little more than five percent of the county’s population and the same as Davidson County, a jurisdiction six times its size.

Maury County is currently not under a mask mandate. County Mayor Andy Ogles says he has no plans to issue one. Instead, he’s encouraging his constituents to take personal responsibility.

“Masks have a role, and I think that’s been demonstrated,” said Mayor Ogles said. “But, it’s in the proper time and application. For example, I went to a ribbon cutting today and there were times when I had my mask on. And then when I can social distance, I took it off. That way it was one of those common sense approaches.”

Mayor Ogles says he does not have the authority to issue such a mandate and believes that responsibility rests on the general assembly.

“Only the legislature has that authority, not your mayors,” Mayor Ogles said. “And it is wrong, it is absolutely wrong, if mask mandates are being issued by fiat and not by your general assembly. In the same way that a seatbelt law or a smoking law would be voted on by your general assembly, they should vote on it, because that ensures that every single person in the state of Tennessee has the equal representation.”

Mayor Ogles has encouraged his constituents to follow protocols at their discretion, even as doctors expect case numbers to continue to rise going into the holidays.

“Look, if you have an elderly individual in your family, you’re going to have to make a decision as to whether it makes sense to have your Thanksgiving. And if you decide to have it, make sure you’re taking those precautions to protect those individuals,” said Mayor Ogles. “But, it’s not up to me as a mayor to tell you how to run your life.”

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